The BeeHolder, January 2012
Back in July we helped sponsor a team of young beekeepers from Wales to participate in the International Meeting of Young Beekeepers at Warth in Austria. Here's what happened.
The Team consisted of Toby Beavan (12) from Ruthin, Ianto Hammonds (13) from Ceredigion and John Elsby (13) from Anglesey. This gave us a good representation from different parts of Wales and the youngest team to be competing.
Day 1 - We travelled out to Warth from Manchester airport on the 11th of July, changing flights in Munich. Matt Notley from the English team also travelled with us. When we landed in Vienna we were met by a representative from the Austrian beekeeping school who then took us to the venue which was around an hour from the airport. More information on the venue can be found here.
It was late afternoon by the time we arrived. After unpacking we all took part in games to socialise with everyone. This was followed by an adult planning meeting - after the youngsters had finished testing the boundaries on the lights out rule!?
Day 2 - This was the first full day of the competition and with temperatures soaring all the young people got mixed into teams with 1 leader each; this had been carefully worked out to make sure no team had 2 people from the same nation in it. My team to take around the competition consisted of 1 Russian, 1 Latvian and 1 Slovenian. This section of the competition covered manual work with bees (real colonies of bees) microscopy, recognition of beekeeper’s tools and beekeeping-connected plants as well as a section on products. To give an example of what they had to do, within the products section there were 5 jars of honey, two jars were fine but one of the two was a bitter honey. The other jars all had something wrong with them and all 5 had to be correctly identified.
Day 2 was finished with a social evening to include the presentation of the nations. Our young team gave a presentation about the nation of Wales and beekeeping practices here. It was fascinating to listen to the other talks and I regretted that we hadn’t taken hand outs as most of the other groups had (though this was mostly cheese and flower bulbs from the Dutch team).
Day 3 - The young people all sat the academic section of the tests in the morning (2 x 1.5 hour exams) while the adults got a tour of the facilities. The beekeeping section of the college teaches young people to be commercial beekeepers and also produces tons of honey and 700+ queens annually. It was really interesting to see how they work with bees in Austria, one major difference is that no protective clothing is worn. The afternoon of Day 3 consisted of result announcements and presentation of prizes and certificates. All the young people had organised games and sports for the rest of the evening, while the adults took part in a meeting to gather feedback and improvement suggestions.
Day 4 - This last day of the trip saw a change of plan for us as we left the college early and planned to visit Schonbrunn Palace. But when we arrived in Vienna the German, Latvian, English and Welsh teams all wanted to stay together for the last day, so we looked around Vienna City as a group. We landed back in Manchester at 11pm.
The fact that we were placed 15 out of 16 is partly attributable to the team being so young, the amount of beekeeping education we do compared to other countries and how seriously we take competitions compared to other countries. The actual competition was far less important to us than the wealth of knowledge we all brought back from the trip.